Book 1 Chapter 11 – Pursuing Troops’ Sudden Arrival
When darkness fell that day, because the two boys’ riding skill was not perfected yet, the four people rode on two horses, leaving one horse as spare, in case they had to make their escape by taking advantage of the dark. Li Jing and Xu Ziling rode together, while Kou Zhong and Susu rode the other horse.
Kou Zhong wrapped his arms around Susu’s waist, leaning close to her fragrant back, smelling the sweet fragrance of her body and her hair; he was wishing that they could continue like this forever.
On one hand, Susu was still fearful and nervous, secondly, she already regarded Kou Zhong as her little brother; although she did feel the close contact between them, the feeling was not intense. It had never occurred to her that this kid Kou Zhong was immersing himself in this pleasure.
Li Jing was definitely not an ordinary character; from time to time he would dismount and put his ear on the ground to listen whether there was hidden troops on the road ahead. He also knew how to make use of the terrain to mask their route; he was not impatient or reckless at all.
By daybreak, the four of them finally left the danger zone and entered the suburb on the outskirt of Danyang County area.
Jiangdu of Yangzhou was the last big city on the tributary of Yangtze River before it flows into the ocean. From here to the west were precisely Danyang and Liyang, two big strategic cities along the river. If Liyang fell into the hands of Du Fuwei, the river route along Yangtze was immediately cut off, while at the same time threw Danyang into a state of emergency.
But Li Jing pointed out that it would not be easy for Du Fuwei to capture Liyang, he only had enough power to invade the neighboring villages and towns nearby, which were powerless to resist. Even stabilizing Liyang would require him to ask for the Heaven’s blessing, so invading Danyang would be out of question.
Second reason was that Yang Guang remained in control of the Capital, Daxing, the eastern capital Luoyang, and the coastal Jiangdu, three of the country’s most important strategic cities.
After the three big canals, Guangtong, Tongji and Yongji, were connected to each other, the north and south were also connected into one stretch, and the water transportation had the three strategic cities closely linked with each other, enabling the Sui country’s army, whose power was growing, to be deployed rapidly to the south to suppress the rebellion.
Supposing that Luoyang was Emperor Yang’s eastern capital, then Yangzhou’s Jiangdu was his southern capital. Both were areas that must be fought over, and both were areas that Emperor Yang must defend. Therefore, the Sui army spared no expense in defending Danyang, so that no disaster would reach Jiangdu.
From this, it can be seen that Du Fuwei occupying Liyang was the turning point in the struggle between the rebel’s army and the Sui army.
The closer they were to Danyang, the more they felt the tension of the situation. They saw continuous flow of warships going toward Jiangdu, as well as warships bound for Danyang. The Sui army set up checkpoint everywhere, prohibiting members of Wulin from entering Danyang, causing people who did not live in Danyang to turn back and spread rumors that Danyang was already closed.
Fortunately they had no intention of entering Danyang to begin with, so they simply entered the neighboring rural county and sold the three war-horses and made a small fortune.
Li Jing divided the silver into four parts and urged the others to keep to money and hide it well; he said, “At the time of turmoil and chaos of war, anything might happen. Right now the three biggest power among the rebels, Dou Jiande occupied Hebei, Du Fuwei took over Huai River, while Zhai Rang held control over the Central Plains; the situation will gradually become clear. It also put the Sui army fragmentation in the open. However, taking the opportunity of the uprising, four black hegemons started to loot, the black road [again, ‘black’ here refers to criminal/underworld] powers intending to get their share of the action are measured in cartloads and gallons. If anyone meets some mishaps along the way, we will try to rendezvous at Gaoyou [county level city in Yangzhou], and we’ll find a ship from there to go up north by the canal, trying to make it to Luoyang.”
After giving Susu a couple of glances, he noticed that due to her thin clothing, she was shivering from the cold. He said, “Tonight we’ll find a hotel here to get some rest. You two and Susu go buy some warm winter clothes to avoid getting sick due to the exposure to cold weather and snow. When you are done, we’ll meet again here.”
“Li Dage, where are you going?” Kou Zhong wondered.
Li Jing squinted his eyes under the bright afternoon sun to scan the shops lining both sides of the street; he seemed to be looking for something. “I want to look for a weapon store, to see if I can find two similar long saber for you to defend yourselves. I hope the price is not too high! In time like this, selling sabers and swords is the best business.”
Kou Zhong was greatly delighted. “In that case,” he said, “Let’s go our separate way to do our business!”
Upon splitting up, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling walked on the right and left of Susu, following the crowd of pedestrians along the long street trying to find clothing store. This town was near Danyang; it was extremely thriving. Due to refugees who fled from Liyang, it was even more lively. However, there was a faint impenetrable fear and nervousness in the air. Most of the shops have already closed their door.
Xu Ziling said, “Maybe we’d better go to the marketplace to see if there is any mobile vendor stall over there?” Thereupon the three of them changed direction toward the marketplace.
Because of the crowd, Susu reached out to hold on to the two boys’ arms so that they would not get separated, but also to get a bit of warmth from them. This had made the two boys pleased and a bit bewitched by her.
Kou Zhong whispered in Susu’s ear, “Jiejie’d better buy men’s clothing; if you wear hat, it will cover Jiejie’s beautiful hair, others won’t be able to see that Jiejie is actually a very beautiful woman.”
Being praised like that, Susu nodded her head cheerfully.
In the meantime the three of them have entered the marketplace. Sure enough, there were a large number of street stalls with their merchandise laid out on the ground, hawking all kinds of goods, especially winter clothing.
Xu Ziling also whispered in Susu’s ear, “We’d better trim your long hair a little bit, and have your hair in a male bun like ours. It will be even more foolproof [orig. in ten thousand, not one fail].”
Susu happily said, “Will you do that for me?”
The two boys bragged, “Naturally that would be best!”
Susu pulled the two boys to stop at one of the street vendors, and enthusiastically selected a set of winter clothing and a pair of winter boots with exceptionally high heels. Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were highly amused, while their hearts were filled with warm feeling.
Suddenly, almost at the same time the two of them noticed several rogue, local-ruffian like, strong and muscular men nearby were staring lecherously at Susu, who were squatting on the ground, while whispering to each other. The two boys felt very uneasy, while cursing in their hearts.
Kou Zhong hurriedly stooped down to help Susu picking suitable set of clothing. And then, without haggling over the price, he painfully paid at more than twice the price, and quickly turned around and left.
As soon as they were out of the marketplace, the two boys breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Bang!’ They were just entering the main street, someone crossed the street and fiercely bumped his shoulder against Xu Ziling’s shoulder.
Xu Ziling was caught off-guard, naturally his shoulder recoiled a little before he sent out his strength to react; at the same time the sole of his feet felt hot, as if there was a stream of heat flowing toward his shoulder.
“Ah!” the man cried out in pain and fell back, nearly sitting on the ground.
When the three of them halted their steps in shock, six other men came out to block their path and shouted, “You hit people!”
The two boys took a closer look; sure enough, four out of six were the hoodlums who stared at Susu a moment ago, immediately they knew what was going on.
 Strictly speaking, ‘Central Plains’ consists of middle and lower region of the Yellow River, including Henan, western Shandong, southern Shanxi and Hebei; but Central Plains is also interchangeable with China.
Chapter 11, Part 2
Szfong, HPC, Weed, Jaya, you are welcome. Anh, we also moved to Washington State because of family. Sky, speaking of the devil ... When I mentioned New York the other day, I meant you. And suddenly you reappeared ... what a coincidence. Actually, I took several months hiatus to prepare for my certification exam and just got back early November. Strawberry, I forgot to answer your question: my home is Kirkland, but due to the fire, we temporarily reside in north Bothell. Which part of Seattle do you live?
Other passerby got out of their way in a flurry, afraid a disaster would come to the fish in the moat. [This must be a Chinese saying, but honestly I don’t get it.]
Susu’s flower-like countenance paled, Xu Ziling pulled her back two steps, while Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Everywhere under the sun [orig. five lakes four oceans] are brothers, a long and difficult road [orig. ten thousand rivers a thousand mountains] is a family. Yangzhou’s Zhu Hua Bang [Bamboo Flower Gang] Second Hall’s Hall Master is our Ah Gong [could be grandpa, or simply elder]; I wonder how should I address these Dage [big brother].” He also performed the secret hand signal of the Bamboo Flower Gang.
The seven hoodlums exchanged glances with each other, while also made a bit panicky signals with their hands and feet.
Bamboo Flower Gang had a rather considerable power in Yangzhou region, otherwise Kou Zhong would not invent crazy nonsense about him being Bamboo Flower Gang member.
One of the men, a bulky man who was clearly the leader, took a step forward and said, “I don’t care who you are, the fact is that you hit one of our brothers. How are you going to compensate for that?”
Since he was a kid Kou Zhong grew up in the marketplace, how could he not know that the situation before his eyes would be difficult to defuse? Seeing how these men’s eyes fell on Susu’s ample breasts, although he was a bit apprehensive, he knew that they could not run away. Therefore, hardening his heart, he laughed aloud again and said, “Money, we don’t have any; but lives, we do have a couple. If you have enough ability, come and get it.”
With a gust of wind the thug on his left sent out a sweeping kick.
Kou Zhong was greatly surprised; how could this guy’s leg move so slowly? It just did not make any sense.
Another man charged from the right, sending a fist toward his face.
When these two boys were still in Yangzhou, it could be said that they grew up with fighting and receiving a beating, hence their experience was incomparably rich. They were used to fight together, so as soon as the opponents made their move, Xu Ziling pulled Susu two steps back. But as he was about to join the fray, Kou Zhong, as if he had eyes behind his back, called out, “You watch for Jiejie.”
Kou Zhong leaned sideways to evade the attack, and then sent a kick to the left, while simultaneously ducked down and struck with his arm, punching the lower abdomen of the thug who attacked his face. His movement was so nimble that even Xu Ziling was awestruck.
More fantastic things happened: right when Kou Zhong was brandishing his arm, he felt his whole body was immersed in unspeakable coolness, while from the top of his head a stream of cold feeling flowed down, linking up the channels on his arm, and burst forth from his fist.
‘Bang!’ The sound of his fist striking its target was mixed with a miserable scream of his victim, whose entire body flew out and crashed onto another thug; the two men were thrown to the ground, rolling around as one entity like a gourd, totally battered and exhausted.
While Kou Zhong was looking at his own fist in disbelief, his ears caught Susu and Xuziling’s cry of alarm; he knew something was wrong. Right this moment another man kneed him on his back. Kou Zhong tumbled forward in pain.
Seeing his sneak attack succeeded, the hoodlum wanted to follow-up with another attack, but suddenly he felt a burst of cold stream rushed forth wildly into his body from his knee, making him feel as if he had been thrown into an icehouse, while his brain was jolted with severe pain. Before he knew what was going on, he suddenly found out that he was laying face up on the ground, unable to crawl back up.
Kou Zhong dropped down and rolled away to evade the incoming two kicks; amazingly, the pain on his back suddenly went away without any medicine.
As he sprang up, he found out that Xu Ziling was dashing on bravely with no thought of his safety. ‘Bang, bang, pow, pow!’ He sent punches and kicks toward the remaining five overbearing thugs without reservation.
The first thug who was hit by Kou Zhong’s punch and the one who kneed him from behind were still lying on the ground, unable to get up.
Xu Ziling fought like he was mad or was possessed; he was completely ignoring the incoming punches and kicks, yet was able to lightly evade the attacks, while ferociously counterattacked. The ones hit by him immediately sprayed blood from their mouth and fell down to the ground.
Kou Zhong still did not understand what was going on.
By this time there were hundreds of people all around them, cheering and clapping for them. At the same time he caught a glimpse of several government officers, while shouting and yelling, squeezing their way through the crowd.
Kou Zhong immediately called out, “Xiao Ling, the legs [sic] are coming, pull back!”
Xu Ziling jumped in fright. He launched a flying kick toward the last opponent, and then turned around, and together with Kou Zhong and Susu, slipped away as fast as they could.
The three people ran for a while until the found a secluded place where they could change into their winter clothes. By the time they emerged from an alley and turned into the main street, at first glance people would merely see three ordinary young men.
Susu was still very much afraid, but her expression was happy, knowing that the two boys were fighting for her.
On the way toward the agreed place where they were going to rendezvous with Li Jing, the two boys turned their faces toward Susu’s flowery pretty face while excitedly narrated what has just happened.
Very proud of himself, Kou Zhong said, “When that out-of-luck guy hit me on my back, it was so painful that I was about to vomit blood, but in the blink of an eye there was a comfortable cool qi bubbling forth in my entire body, so comfortable that I wanted to call Niang, and all the pain was gone. And that guy was shaken back by laozi’s [I, your father] inner strength protecting my body that he nearly lost his eggs.”
Hearing him speaking all those vulgar words, Susu felt an unspeakable intimacy and delight instead; she pulled the two boys’ arms closer.
Xu Ziling laughed aloud and said, “You are cool I am hot. I have never had such an immensely enjoyable fight. Real tooth real jaw, one man one punch, he hit me I am alright, I hit him he spurted blood. If the first level of Nine Mysteries Power is already this formidable, just think what would happen if we train to the ninth level, won’t we blow off Yuwen Huagu’s eggs altogether?”
Kou Zhong stretched out his head to get a good sniff at Susu’s hair; swaying his head he said with a sigh, “Our good Jiejie smells really good, no wonder she attracted that many wild bees and wandering butterflies.”
Susu was ticklish and shrunk down her neck. “Xiao Zhong,” she said angrily, “If you keep making mischief, I am going to tell Li Dage.”
Xu Ziling also brought his nose closer and sucked in a deep breath, while saying with a laugh, “One sniff per person, it’s only fair.”
Susu laughed so hard that her beautiful body shook, while she tried to dodge left and right. The three of them zigzagging on the street, catching the attention of other passerby.
Susu suddenly pulled the boys to stop, while calling out, “We are here!”
The three of them still refused to let their hands go; they huddled together and yakety-yak they chatted incessantly. Yet there was not the slightest degree of improper thought or evil desire between men and women at all, there was only a pure, innocent love between sister and brother who have gone through trials and tribulations together.
After waiting for a while and Li Jing has not returned, the three of them retreated toward a nearby small alley perpendicular to the main street, where they continued their chatting and joking.
Kou Zhong jokingly said, “Jiejie must not go back to where your Miss of the Zhai family resides. Servant girls have always had to suffer maltreatment, much less when your Laoye failed to overcome Li Mi, Jiejie’s life will be miserable. Those so-called ‘righteous army’ people [see my earlier note, Chapter 10 on ‘righteous army’] are mostly worse than beast. I wonder how many are like Li Dage.”
With a bitter laugh Susu said, “Jiejie has no family no relatives; if I don’t go back to Zhai family, where would I go?”
Xu Ziling excitedly said, “You can come with Li Dage and us roaming the other end of the world! This world is so big, wherever we go, we can stay there making money and taking care of Jiejie. Only that kind of life won’t bore us to death!”
Susu caught on the excitement. “That’s right!” she said, “I can wash your clothes, I can attend to your daily life. Ay! I am sure Li Dage won’t be willing join us in that kind of life. He is a broad-minded and open man, a man who aims high. Just look how he is always in deep contemplation and you’ll see what I mean.”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “In that case you can be with us, two brothers then. We will be together forever, we promise to be obedient and show filial piety to Jiejie.”
Susu was overjoyed, “We will be very happy then,” she said. “Oh! There is just one thing wrong: some day you will get married and bear children, won’t my pitiful situation become very awkward?”
Striking his chest, Xu Ziling promised, “For Jiejie, we will never get married.”
Susu shook her head, “How can that be?” she asked, “Carryon on your ancestral line is every man’s duty. It would be better if Jiejie is married to the two of you.”
“What?” the two boys were shocked.
Susu matter-of-factly and innocently said, “In Pujia Village, there are a lot of two brothers marrying one wife. At night they all sleep together.”
Kou Zhong’s eyes lit up, “That’s a lot of fun too!”
Xu Ziling shook his head, “That won’t do,” he said, “It would be better if we draw lots to decide who get to marry Jiejie, the loser will have to find a way to find his own wife.”
In complete bliss, Susu said, “No, no, the right thing is: the loser will have to marry me. In the future both of you will become great heroes, the wife you’ll find will definitely be much better than having Jiejie as your wife.”
The three people looked at each other, then they doubled-up in laughter at the same time. Pulling one another in a group hug, their hearts were brimming with a genuine, pure feeling that they would not part forever.
Gasping for breath, Kou Zhong said, “Jiejie really knows how to play with us, how to coax us to be this happy, while actually she only wants to marry Li Dage!”
Susu’s pretty face immediately blushed deep red. “Don’t talk nonsense!” she angrily said.
Xu Ziling struggled hard to suppress his laughter until tears streaming down his face. Suddenly he saw a group of men, about a dozen men were walking across the street. Each one looked around with his eyes wide open. Two of those men had black head and swollen face; they were precisely the thugs who received lessons from them earlier.
Chapter 11, Part 3
Jaya, too bad they seriously lacked experience and good coach. Ahoxan, DongBin, thanks, I'll include the info into my source file. Sky, thanks for the email too. HPC, Anh, Zlack, you are welcome. Strawberry, Tukwila? Or farther south?
This concludes Book 1. I will try to catch up during Christmas break.
Hurriedly he pulled the other two aside to hide behind a big tree in an alley across the street. By this time Kou Zhong and Susu have also seen the men. They all held their breath in fear.
“Why haven’t Li Dage returned?” Susu said, “With him here, we have nothing to fear.”
The two boys were also wondering, Li Jing only wanted to buy some blades, there was no reason he would take such a long time.
Overwhelmed with horror, Xu Ziling said, “Within this bunch of hooligans, there are two or three that look like they belong to the same gang, plus they carry weapons. I am afraid they don’t have any good intention.”
Kou Zhong said in a low voice, “If we have sabers, we need not fear them, but we must never take their blades. Although our martial art skill is high, I am afraid the first level of Nine Mysteries Power is not enough to withstand weapons, especially necks are so frail.”
“Don’t say that!” Susu shrieked, “Ay! Where is Li Dage?”
Right this moment, from the other end of the alley someone staggered along in their direction, it was precisely Li Jing.
The three people were scared out of their wits and rushed over. As soon as Li Jing saw them, his legs gave up and he collapsed to the ground.
Like an arrow Kou and Xu, two boys darted forward and propped him up from left and right.
Susu nearly threw herself into Li Jing’s bosom, but when her hands touched his clothes, she was aghast to find that her hands were soaked with blood.
Li Jing’s face was completely devoid of any blood; strenuously, he said in low voice, “Five men from Du Fuwei’s team of martial art masters ‘Law Enforcement Regiment’ have come. I killed four of them, but one escaped. You don’t have to worry about me, just run away immediately, otherwise it will be too late.”
Susu waved her hands and feet frantically, “Where is the blood-clotting powder? We must stop Dage’s bleeding first.”
Kou Zhong knew the situation was critical, he pointed to one of the backdoors nearby. Together with Xu Ziling they helped Li Jing toward the door, pushed the door open by force, and took refuge in someone’s rear courtyard. Susu quickly pushed the wooden door closed again.
The courtyard was overgrown with weed, apparently the residents of this house have left earlier.
By this time Li Jing has already fallen into a semi-conscious state. The three people did not have time to observe propriety. They broke into the house, lay Li Jing on a long table, and took off his clothes. To their surprise they found out that he had at least seven wound, the deep ones reached his bones, the shallow ones cut into his flesh. Fortunately, except for the most critical saber cut on is torso, the other cuts were either on his back, arms or thigh. Apparently the battle was very dangerous and very intense.
In this critical situation Kou Zhong was not flustered, “Xiao Ling, go find blood-clotting medicine, I will try to get a horse cart. Either by stealing, robbing or swindling, don’t care about it too much. We’ll leave as soon as it is dark.”
Susu was busy examining and cleaning up the wound with tears streaming down her face. The three people looked at each other, they all determined to save Li Jing’s life. Then the two boys left separately.
With great difficulty Xu Ziling managed to find a drugstore and bought some blood-clotting powder. When he was rushing back, he came face to face with the group of thugs they saw earlier. Xu Ziling noticed that every single one of them carried either a sword or a saber; they looked fierce and menacing. Busily he raised his collar and continued walking briskly with head hung low.
As they past each other, he was recognized by one of the men who received a beating from him. “It’s him!” the man shouted.
‘Qiang! Qiang!’ the sound of the evil thugs’ sword leaving its sheathe lingered in the air, the other pedestrians were so scared that they scattered like flying chicken or running dogs.
Xu Ziling did not have even a cun of weapon in his possession; even if he did, he would not dare to fight so many people. He yelled and ran like mad along the street.
The evil thugs ran after him in hot pursuit.
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong could be considered experts in running away. When they were in Yangzhou, every time they were defeated, they had to rely on their two feet to save their lives. This time, turning to the left and winding to the right, fully utilizing the other pedestrians as barrier between him and the pursuing troops, he ran faster and faster away.
He felt the warm stream inside his body was circulating endlessly. The sole of his left foot was steaming hot, while the sole of his right foot was icy-cold. The more he ran, the more he felt comfortable. His mind was as calm as the still water; he even nearly forgot the enemy.
By the time he rounded a bent and entered a small alley, he had left the bunch of thugs far behind that he could not even see them.
Xu Ziling made another circle before returning to their safe house. When he arrived, Susu was waiting for him while her heart was burning with anxiety.
The two of them scrambled with their hands and feet to apply the blood-clotting powder onto Li Jing’s wounds and wrapped the wounds well. By the time they finished dressing the wounds, it was already dusk. They also put clean clothes on him.
Although Li Jing was still unconscious, his breathing was slow and even, so that they were a bit relieved.
Susu said, “Fortunately Li Dage’s wounds have the capability to automatically shrink to stop the bleeding, otherwise it would be even worse. Ay! Why haven’t Xiao Zhong come back yet?”
Xu Ziling did not say anything. He took out the treasured saber that Li Jing carried. Walking to the middle of the room, he practiced the saber technique Li Jing taught him on his own initiative, the one Li Jing names ‘Bloody Battle Ten Styles’.
When Li Jing first taught them the saber technique, he did not have too deep of comprehension and perception. But now that Li Jing was seriously hurt and powerful enemy loomed outside, his heart was boiling with grief, indignation, and desperation. He only felt that each step each chop was a move with which he fought for his life. Temporarily he was in a no-self, no-consciousness state.
From the first move, ‘Two Armies Encamped Face-to-face’, followed by ‘Exposing the Tip of the Fire Beacon’, ‘Light Cavalry Charges Ahead, ‘Feeling the Pocket and Taking Something Out’, ‘One Battle and Success is Achieved’, ‘Acting on Overbearing, Stirring Emptiness’, ‘Troops without Regular Power’, ‘Life or Death, Exist or Perish’, ‘Unyielding and Escaping’, until the tenth style, ‘Ruler Overlooking the World’; he felt that every move was going smoothly and easily.
From the tenth style he was going to start over from the first one when suddenly Susu yelled at him, “Xiao Ling, stop it!”
Xu Ziling was stunned and stopped abruptly. He saw Susu was standing in front of Li Jing, shielding him; her face was blue her lips white. “Your saber seemed to emit hot wind; it’s extremely frightening.”
Xu Ziling stared blankly in amazement; why didn’t he feel it, he wondered. It seemed that his Nine Mysteries Great Method could be considered progressing a bit more. Only if he really met an enemy, would he be able to put it to good use?
‘Bang!’ Kou Zhong slammed the door open and came in. “Mule cart is here, let’s go!” he cried out.
The two people were greatly delighted. Without even asking how he managed to get a mule cart, they lifted Li Jing up using belts wrapped around his body, and loaded him onto the mule cart waiting in the courtyard, on top of piles of straw. Susu embraced him in her arms.
Kou Zhong drove the mule cart, from the back door they followed the alley and turned into the street, just as more than a dozen other mule carts and horse carts, carrying men, women, young and old, were heading toward the county town gate. Kou Zhong was greatly delighted, he steered the cart into the middle of the pack, hoping to ‘pass off fish eyes for pearls’, and slip out of the county town.
Xu Ziling had Li Jing’s treasured saber inside its scabbard lying on his knees. He said in a low voice, “Just now I practiced Li Dage’s ‘Bloody Battle Ten Styles’; it was really fun. Jiejie even said that my saber emitted hot wind!”
“Looks like the Nine Mysteries Skill Niang taught combined with those ghost diagrams from the Secret to Long Life can become formidable martial art,” Kou Zhong commented, “Ay! Too bad we only have one saber. Otherwise with a pair of sabers working together in harmony we could be matchless under the heavens.”
Xu Ziling laughed, “Go to your Niang!” he swore, “Oh, no! Won’t that be go to my Niang as well? You, this kid, always love to boast and to praise yourself. Compared to Niang and Yuwen Huaji, our skills differ too far. Handling a few bullies is still alright, but if …”
Kou Zhong laughed bitterly and said, “Precisely like you said. Look! The bullies are coming. Shall we go or not?”
Following his gaze, Xu Ziling saw close to twenty local ruffians were mingling among the county officers by the county town gate, inspecting the carts and pedestrians going out of town, but they had not seen them.
The two boys’ countenance became very ugly.
Gnashing his teeth, Xu Ziling said, “I’ll draw them away!”
Kou Zhong was shocked, “If you die, what am I going to do?” he asked.
Xu Ziling’s eyes flickered with cold rays. “I won’t die,” he confidently assured him, “You go about half a li outside the city and wait for me.”
Kou Zhong knew it was the only way. “I won’t leave without you,” he said grimly, “If I don’t see you, I will go back and stake my life with them.”
By this time Susu also knew something was not right; terrified, she said, “No, we’d better find a place to hide!”
Xu Ziling shook his head resolutely, “If we tolerate these thugs, we lose a good opportunity to deal with them. If that bunch of Du Fuwei’s law enforcement murderers came, we will lose our lives. So this is our only chance.”
“Be careful!” Kou Zhong said.
Xu Ziling took out the treasured saber, left the scabbard behind, and jumped off the cart.
Kou Zhong and Susu watched as Xu Ziling courageously dashed toward the enemy; the two people’s heart almost got caught in their throat.
The evil thugs also caught sight of Xu Ziling. Shouting and yelling, they drew their weapons and swarmed forward.
Carrying Li Jing’s treasured saber, Xu Ziling turned toward the big street by the city wall.
The convoy of carts and carriages immediately increased their speed to get out of the county town as quickly as possible. Kou Zhong and Susu felt as if their heart was twisted and was set on fire as they had to endure quietly and urged their mule to get out of town.
As they watched those nearly twenty evil thugs chasing Xu Ziling, eventually Kou Zhong and Susu could not hold back their tears.
The instant they passed the city gate, they saw Xu Ziling turned around and charged wildly toward the pursuing enemy.
Susu screamed. The mule cart was out of town.